Zwift has just announced the return of Zwift Academy the talent search program which gives anyone with a Zwift account the chance to land a pro contract. The program started in 2016 and has awarded seven professional contracts since the first iteration. Zwift Academy winners have gone on to win pro races, podium in Elite National Championships and represent their countries at the UCI Road Cycling World Championships. This year, two contracts with CANYON//SRAM Racing and, new for 2020, Alpecin-Fenix are up for grabs.
“This will be our fifth year with the Zwift Academy, and I’m just as excited to see who we might discover this year as I was back in 2016”, says Ronny Lauke, Team Manager CANYON//SRAM Racing. “We currently have three girls in the team who came through the Zwift Academy program and all three have been enjoying a great 2020 season. Ella has secured her first professional win, Tanja recently podiumed in the German Nationals and Jessica finished top ten in her first professional stage race at the Women’s Santos Tour Down Under. Zwift Academy is a proven program that our team truly believes in.”
The training plan
Zwift Academy Road has been revised for 2020 with an increased focus on training and a new list of objectives for those chasing the pro cycling dream. The plan includes casual rides, training rides and races. The company says the Zwift Academy is a community-based training program that unites the Zwift community in their quest to become fitter, faster and stronger. The eight-workout plan was designed by Dig Deep Coaching and will be led by former pro cyclists Stephen Gallagher and Dan Fleeman. Participants will have the opportunity to complete the workouts with others or solo.
Zwift Academy Races and Segment Rides will also offer a chance for Zwift Academy riders to test themselves and see how they compare to others. Races will be run on two different circuits: Richmond’s 2015 World’s Course, which will offer a largely flat circuit with some punchy climbs, and La Rein on the new French map, which will favour the climbers. Segment Rides, a new event format for this year’s Zwift Academy, are designed to allow riders to test themselves on two different segments per ride and attempt to set new personal best times and power numbers as each different segment will test different energy systems. The rides will target segments in Innsbruck and Watopia.
Finally, the Zwift Academy program will also include Zwift Academy Group Rides. The rides are designed to offer an opportunity for ‘students’ of Zwift Academy Road to recover and share their own experiences in a relaxed setting.
How to get the contract
Those going for either of the two professional cycling contracts must complete all eight workouts as well as two races (Richmond and France) and both Segment Rides (Innsbruck and Watopia). Riders who are just riding for the training experience will only have to complete all eight workouts and a combination of any four events. Those seeking professional contracts must sync their Zwift Activities to Today’s Plan (a training platform offering a free trial for participants) for analysis.
“It’s a really cool concept, and I look forward to seeing who will join us on the team for next season,” says Mathieu van der Poel, racer for Alpecin-Fenix. “There’s certainly no hiding on Zwift, it’s a tough platform that tests you to your limits, so I’ve no doubt that we will find someone with a really big engine to add to the team’s strength in 2021.”
Online enrolment for all three 2020 Zwift Academy programs, including road, tri and run, open on Sept. 8. The eight week Zwift Academy Road program begins Oct. 1 and ends Nov. 25.